Revolution

EFF Opposes Clipper Chip

The Electonic Frontier Foundation opposed the Clinton administration's Clipper Chip proposal by supporting Rep. Maria Cantwell's bill, H.R. 3627, to liberalize control of encryption technology.

The Cantwell bill was never passed, and Cantwell lost her re-election bid in 1994.

From a February 1994 message by Jerry Berman, Executive Director of EFF:

On Friday, February 4, 1994, the Administration announced that it plans to proceed on every front to make the Clipper Chip encryption scheme a national standard, and to discourage the development and sale of alternative powerful encryption technologies. If the government succeeds in this effort, the resulting blow to individual freedom and privacy could be immeasurable ...

Rep. Cantwell introduced H.R. 3627 in the House of Representatives on November 22, 1993. H.R. 3627 would amend the Export Control Act to move authority over the export of nonmilitary software with encryption capabilities from the Secretary of State (where the intelligence community traditionally has stalled such exports) to the Secretary of Commerce. The bill would also invalidate the current license requirements for nonmilitary software containing encryption capablities, unless there is substantial evidence that the software will be diverted, modified or re-exported to a military or terroristic end-use ...

We've been fighting Clipper Chip and Digital Telephony in the policy arena and will continue to do so. But there's another way to fight those initiatives, and that's to make sure that powerful alternative encryption technologies are in the hands of any citizen who wants to use them. The government hopes that, by pushing the Clipper Chip in every way short of explicitly banning alternative technologies, it can limit your choices for secure communications.